Accounting Firm

How to choose the right tax accountant

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A quality tax preparing accountant saves you time and money. In today’s post, we look into how you can pick the best accountant for your business or personal tax needs.

Ask For Recommendations

Many of your peers have accountants. Ask them where they go. Why?

Because, like any professional, most accountants have particular niches. They might specialize in helping freelancers with their taxes or focus on sorting the finances of a larger corporation.

Asking your peers is the easiest way to sort through the clutter to find an accountant. Imagine you wanted to find a doctor for your foot pain. You likely want a doctor that specializes in foot pain instead of one that specializes in hands.

It’s no different with accountants. Ask around; the best recommendations come from satisfied customers that have a similar set of needs as your own.

Prioritize Location

You want someone who understands your tax situation and can handle everything you may throw at them.

This is easier if you can communicate with them face to face. Sure, you could work with someone remotely and they might be able to help you figure out your taxes, but especially for freelancers and those in similarly complicated tax situations

Find Out If They’re Qualified 

So how do you find out your potential accountant’s qualifications?

Start by asking for a Preparer Tax Identification Number. Anyone who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for money must have a PTIN. Not only does this help you determine your potential preparer’s qualifications, but also, that number is required in order for the accountant to file your taxes on your behalf.

Now, it isn’t that hard to get a PTIN, so you’ll want to ensure that your potential tax preparer has one of the following qualifications:

  • CPA – Certified Public Accountant

  • Law license

  • Enrolled agent designation

Be sure that your accountant, at a minimum, has a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. Even though it is technically not a requirement, the process of getting a CPA license is reasonably strict and requires that your accountant have a bachelor’s degree to even sit for the exam. If you happen to get audited, you’ll need a tax preparer with one of the above qualifications  for them to represent you if you get audited

Beyond the  PTIN number, degrees, and certification, you’ll also want to know how many years of experience they have filing taxes.

If you have a simple return, you require less experience. For those with complicated or unclear tax returns, you’ll want someone who has been navigating the system for longer.

Find Out How Much It’ll Cost You  

The average accountant can cost between $100 and $175 an hour.

That can be a lot for a small business owner or freelancer. There are some things you’ll want to ask about before meeting with an accountant. In 2018, the average fee for preparing a tax return including an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and state tax return was $294.

Most of the best accountants charge an hourly rate but will look over your prior year’s taxes for free, or offer you a free consultation to start. Take these offers, as they will help you select the right fit for your tax needs.

Also, note their hourly rate if you get audited. You can expect to pay a qualified accountant $150/ hour to represent you if you’re audited.

Ensure They’ll E-File  

This is simple. Every accountant should be e-filing at this point. The IRS requires any paid preparer to e-file if they do more than 10 returns. If they aren’t e-filing, maybe they’re not as experienced as you would like.

Filing Taxes as a Same-Sex Married Couple

Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

same sex married couples, tax filing

The good news first: In many cases, if not most, filing taxes as a same-sex married couple in New York state should be as straightforward as it is for straight couples. The bad news: Well, it’s taxes. And taxes can be complicated and tedious.

Some Background First

In 2011, same-sex marriage became legal in New York state. It was already legal in a few other states, and in 2015, it became legal everywhere in the United States. You may have filed as a married same-sex couple on your state taxes since the 2011 tax year and, in 2015/2016, switched to married on your federal taxes as well. (This page breaks down what you were legally required to do.)

If you filed as single until your 2016 return so that you would have the same information on your federal and state returns, it’s possible you could get some money by amending state and federal returns from prior years. To be legally safe, you should amend any state returns from prior years that need changing.

If you transferred property during the past few years or did anything that may have changed due to the recognition of same-sex marriage, it may be a good idea to consult with an accountant.

Now to the Present

Now it’s 2017, and for the most part, same-sex married couples in New York can file taxes just as their heterosexually married counterparts do. A few considerations, though:

  • If you are married and adopt the child your partner gave birth to, you cannot claim the adoption tax credit. On the other hand, if you have yet to marry, you can claim the credit. Of course, the two of you should discuss whether getting married before the child is born is better for your family, both financially and emotionally.

  • Suppose you file taxes as married filing separately. Further suppose that one of you has yet to adopt a child who the other partner gave birth to or is the biological parent of. The legal parent is the one who should claim the dependency deduction.

At Herman and Company, CPAs. P.C., we can help you navigate through gay marriage tax filing and benefits. If you have any questions or are interested in a free consultation, contact us today.

Paul S. Herman CPA, a tax expert for individuals and businesses, is the founder of Herman & Company, CPA’s PC in White Plains, New York.  He provides guidance and strategies to improve clients’ financial well-being.

Responsive and Knowledgeable White Plains Accounting Firm With a Personal Touch

White Plains Accounting Firm

In business and personal finance, accountants are often unsung heroes. They can find legal means of saving you money on your taxes. They protect companies from theft and prevent costly financial blunders. And, they can make sure that your family members will be provided for after you’re gone.

Today, accounting software may be plentiful, but there’s still no substitute for human judgment when it comes to monetary matters. In fact, it’s more important than ever to work with a top-notch local accounting firm, one that offers a variety of personalized services. That’s because simple business decisions, routine financial transactions and shortcuts to financial stability and success no longer exist.

In the Metropolitan New York, Connecticut and New Jersey area, Herman & Company CPA’s, P.C. is just such a firm. We’ll get to know you well and we’ll learn about your business and investments to provide top-notch service.

Help With QuickBooks

You may rely on an accounting program such as QuickBooks to handle your transactions. Indeed, QuickBooks is an outstanding choice, as it lets you track expenses, automate payments, create reports and bill clients. However, this program is not a sufficient replacement for the experience and prowess of a knowledgeable CPA.

If you do use QuickBooks, we can provide you and your employees with individual or group training sessions. We could also install this software ― on a computer or a network ― so that one or more people may use it. Further, we can set up each component of the program or enhance the setup you already have.

As time passes, if you have questions or problems regarding QuickBooks payroll or accounting, we’ll gladly aid you with those features. Additionally, we can look over your QuickBooks reports and other documents to make sure they’re accurate and that you know how to use them to run your business efficiently and profitably. If you would like, we will conduct those reviews on a monthly or quarterly basis.

A Wide Range of Resources

Finally, we offer each of our prospective clients a free consultation with no obligations. Other than sending you a note of thanks, we won’t contact you after this meeting unless you request to hear from us again. And that consultation could be a major step toward reaching your personal or business’s financial goals!

 Paul S. Herman CPA, a tax expert for individuals and businesses, is the founder of Herman & Company, CPA’s PC in White Plains, New York.  He provides guidance and strategies to improve clients’ financial well-being.

Any U.S. tax advice contained in the body of this website is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by the recipient for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax law provisions.